Sighted guide

How to assist a person living with blindness or low vision

A person who lives with low vision may need assistance to move through an environment safely and efficiently, with the assistance of a sighted person – their guide. This is known as sighted guiding.

It important to be mindful that not everybody who lives with low vision may require or want assistance. Even if you think they do.

When sighted guiding, guides should use the ‘Three A’s’:

Approach

  • Address the person
  • Identify yourself and state your role.

Ask

  • Always ask if assistance is needed in the first place.
  • Find out what assistance they required.

Assist

  • Describe what you see around you – objects and where they are located; advise of any changes in layout of furniture, etc
  • Use precise, descriptive terms, for example, ‘the door is on your left’ rather than ‘the door is over there’
  • Look ahead and advise on upcoming obstacles – at the foot level, head height and to the side

Tips on Technique:

  • The person being guided should lightly grip the back of the guide’s arm, above the elbow. This offers comfort and safety.
  • Walk at a comfortable pace. The guide should be one step ahead at all times, to offer protection.
  • Doorways – it is important to allow the person being guided to be in control of the door; they should be on the hinge side
  • Narrow spaces – advise the person that a narrow space is ahead
  • Stairs – stop at the first step and tell the person you are guiding whether the steps go up or down. Stop when you reach the end of the stairs and tell the person you are at the top or bottom
  • Seating – explain which way the chair is facing and where it is placed in relation to the rest of the room. Also explain which part of the chair you are touching
  • If leaving the person alone, leave them in contact with an object.

While reading information can provide an insight into the process, sighted guide training can be provided on an individual basis to VisAbility’s clients with vision impairment and their carers.

Training is also available to groups or businesses who wish to learn this skill.

How to get support

Please complete the form below to make an initial enquiry about the low vision services and support we can provide. Our Client Experience Team will contact you to discuss your individual needs both now and into the future.

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